Maintaining Info Flow When Employees Are Out
For what feels like the hundredth time this winter alone, another major snow storm hit the nation, confining thousands of workers to their home offices.
And while today’s evolving technology allows employees to remain productive anywhere and anytime, businesses are challenged with keeping their information flow operational, secure and visible regardless of whether employees are working in the office or remotely.
Most businesses depend on employees sending files as part of their job. In many cases, these files contain information that is private, sensitive and confidential. For those files to remain confidential, companies must provide employees with a simple and secure tool for sending files to other people.
If they don’t, employees will be forced into finding their own tools to remain productive and share information, often resorting to personal e-mail accounts, file-sharing websites, and personally owned USB drives, smart phones or external hard drives. While these tools are effective means of sharing information, they introduce security, compliance and data breach risk to an organization. Making matters worse, the risks escalates significantly when a large number of employees are forced to work remotely due to weather.
Most businesses struggle with defining, articulating and mitigating risk. With larger businesses, it tends to be relegated to security processes and gets lost in the corporate shuffle. And for small businesses, it tends to be a resource issue. Establishing best practices and policies around access control, authentication, password management and auditing is a must.
A managed file transfer solution can be used to regain control, visibility, security and auditability of what your employees are sending to other people. Many MFT solutions now include a simple Outlook plug-in that is seamless to end users and doesn’t add any complexity to their day-to-day activities. At the same time it allows IT to manage, monitor and audit the person-to-person information exchange.
Additionally, the proliferation of cloud-based services makes it even easier and more cost efficient to implement and enforce policies regarding information exchange. For example, most managed file transfer vendors offer hosted software-as-a-service solutions (SaaS) that enables remote employees to remain productive by letting them use their personal machines or kiosks to send and receive information in a highly governed way. Clientless virtual private networking allows users to create encrypted tunnels for communication with the corporate office, securing and managing the transport layer, and encryption and decryption can be executed in the background, shielding the user from these complexities.
Another step to aid adoption of company-sanctioned file transfer tools would be blocking access to non-secure, non-manageable options such as popular Web-based email accounts (like Yahoo, Hotmail and GMail), file sharing websites and even the ability to use FTP or send file attachments through instant messenger.
On top of all that, companies also need to instill good judgment and common sense in their knowledge workers. All of the tools and technologies in the world are negligible if you have a user who carelessly mishandles corporate information and ignore best practices and policies. That said, beyond providing tools, the best a company can ever do is repeatedly communicate and create awareness around these best practices and policies.
Hugh Garber is product marketing specialist at Ipswitch File Transfer of Lexington, Mass.